How to become a video game beta tester. Is it a good idea?

The term beta tester often covers many distinct activities.
Here’s what you need to remember.

Participate in the beta version of a game

This subject will not be covered in depth simply because it’s not a good way to generate income or very little and in very rare occasions.
Those who are asked to participate in testing beta versions of games do so at the end of the production process. Taking part in the beta phase is often open to first subscribers and serves to remove the final bugs or to test a servers’ capacity when thousands of players are connected. During this stage, it’s usually the technical performance being tested rather than the game itself. It can be a thrilling experience offered to the player who is often a fan of the developer.
If you’d like to find where these kinds of opportunities exist, subscribe to newsletters from your favourite developer.

This kind of test is also an excellent way of creating loyalty and generating publicity for the publisher. It’s not usually lucrative and your individual comments are rarely considered.

Being a beta tester (Playtest)

Playing from your couch?This one-time activity is remunerative and constitutes a real job.
Being a tester involves playing a game for a period of time that is often determined by those from a video game developer’s corporate headquarters. Testing usually also occurs there and payment is either in cash or gifts (games from the developer).
The test is done over several days and testers are required to answer questions from facilitators who then analyze your games. It’s an exciting experience that must be taken seriously but which cannot be considered a stable income.

How to find a test centre?

The surest way, but also the most tedious, is to go to a popular developer’s site and ask the support staff where interested parties can go to register to participate in a test. For example, here’s the link for Ubisoft.
An easier way is to go to video game trade shows and to ask at those working the stands. Don’t forget about mobile game developers, this sector is in rapid growth and has great potential.

The QA testing profession

For many fans, this the profession of their dreams: a job as a video games tester for a team of developers.
Video game testing is not a casual activity, it’s a profession. It can be very time-consuming and is not necessarily very well-paid. The academic credentials required are minimal (just like the salary) and those interested must be especially patient and very selective.

This profession is increasingly denigrated. It’s implicitly understood that QA testers are at the bottom of the social order within the video gaming industry. As part of this profession, you don’t contribute to game development. Your time is spent constantly repeating parts of games assigned to you and filling out technical forms to reports bugs.
QA means Quality Assurance.In general, QAs are not really employees but contractors, or rather sub-contractors. These second-tier employees are kept as a professional secret and aren’t usually protected by unions.

Please note that these articles are not intended to discourage you but to make you aware of the realities of the industry.
Here you can read an excellent article featuring an account from an actual QA tester.

The advantage of being a QA tester is that it gives you a foot in the door of the video game industry if that’s where you’d like to work.

Writing video game reviews

The road to this profession usually begins with posting reviews on forums or blogs. The more reviews you write, the more expertise you get. But you really have to be a fan and want to share your passion. You must also be very persistent because competition is fierce.
The next step is to work as a freelancer, meaning an independent writer and then to send your reviews to magazines. If your writing is appealing (considering the specifics such as the reputation of the magazine where you submit your work) you will be published and paid. It’s even possible that you could find a permanent staff position.

For more details, read our article about making a living from your video game articles.

Job search sites for the video gaming industry

Wanting to be a beta tester, QA Engineer or freelance writer is the first step towards a career in the video gaming industry. Video gaming is an industry it’s own right which sometimes demands more creativity than others but which includes a whole host of different professions.

That’s basically all there is to know, if you want to learn more, have a different vision, or think that an activity within this sector has been overlooked, please feel free to leave a comment.

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